By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

Gas stations in Crook and Jefferson counties were mostly noncommittal Thursday about their plans to permit self-service by motorists in the new year.

Some employees reached by phone were unaware of any plans by their managers to put self-service into place. Others were unaware the law that allows self-serve gasoline in rural counties, passed by the Legislature in May and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown in June, takes effect Monday.

A handful, like Jeffrey Honeywell, owner of Culver Shell & Feed and a Shell station and convenience store on NW Third Street, Prineville, said he’s ready for self-service.

“We are going to take advantage of it,” he said Thursday. “But we will have someone where there are people that are going to need assistance.”

The law passed this year allows 24-hour-a-day self-service refueling in sparsely populated counties, but stipulates that retailers such as markets or convenience stores with fuel pumps must provide full service.

In 2015, the state legalized “sundown to sun-up” self-serve gas in rural areas between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. Honeywell said he operated his Prineville station on that basis.

Thursday, some station managers said they would continue pumping gas for their patrons just like attendants in Oregon have done since 1951.

Until Monday, Oregon is one of only two states in the union that forbid customers to pump their gasoline. New Jersey is the other.

“Honestly, I don’t think we’re going to make a change,” said cashier Shelby Perkins at the 76 station at 550 NW Third St., Prineville. “Our regular, longtime customers love coming here and talking to us while we pump their gas.”

Besides, she said, many regulars probably don’t know how to work a gas pump.

Crook and Jefferson are among Oregon counties deemed sparsely populated — 40,000 people or less — and allowed an exception to state law that mandates an attendant pump gasoline into the customer’s vehicle. The other counties are Clatsop, Malheur, Union, Wasco, Tillamook, Hood River, Curry, Baker, Morrow, Lake, Grant, Harney, Wallowa, Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler. Gas stations in Tillamook, Curry and Clatsop counties may allow self-service fueling between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

At Towne Pump & Pantry, 612 NW U.S. Highway 26, Prineville, attendants will continue to pump gas, said manager Corina Wright.

“It’s staying the way it is,” she said Thursday. The owner “has not said any different.”

Employees at other stations surveyed by phone Thursday said they are unaware of what the owners or managers were planning, but guessed they’d stick with the status quo.

Darlene Forseth, manager at Main Station Express in Prineville, said that station would continue to employ attendants. The four pumps there are not equipped for self-service, she said. Likewise, the Metolius Market in Metolius will, for the foreseeable future, continue pumping its patrons’ gas, said owner Justin Bidiman.

“My equipment is not set up for credit cards,” he said, “so we don’t have any way of recording the gallons.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815,